Former Detroit Lions running back Justin Jackson carries the ball.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Lions Running Back Unexpectedly Retires at 27 Years Old

Detroit Lions and former Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson is hanging up his cleats after just five NFL seasons.

The Detroit Lions have made significant changes to their running back room this offseason, but one of their potential contributors for the 2023 season is unexpectedly retiring in Justin Jackson.

The 27-year-old running back has decided to retire from the NFL, according to the team. NFL insider Ari Meirov with The 33rd Team tweeted the announcement, adding that the team will be signing former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell in a corresponding move.

Jackson was a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after four consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Northwestern Wildcats. He finished his career with 5,283 yards and 39 touchdowns on the ground before being picked up by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Although he primarily served as a backup behind Austin Ekeler, Jackson was a solid contributor in the Chargers backfield. Over four seasons with the team, Jackson ran for 1,040 yards and four touchdowns, averaging an impressive 5.0 yards per carry while adding another 508 receiving yards on 65 catches.

Jackson left Los Angeles following the 2021 season, signing on with the Detroit Lions to serve a similar role behind D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. He finished the year with just 42 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown. While Jackson will be remembered fondly by Northwestern fans, his NFL career ultimately didn't have the same kind of production despite strong rushing efficiency in a reserve role.

The Lions have a new-look backfield in 2023 with the departures of Jackson, Swift, and Williams. David Montgomery signed a three-year, $18 million deal this offseason with Detroit to serve as the primary back, while the Lions also used one of their first-round picks to bring in dynamic running back Jahmyr Gibbs out of Alabama.

With Montgomery and Gibbs serving as a one-two punch for the Lions, Jackson's services likely wouldn't have been needed barring any injuries. Now, Jackson will have an opportunity to set his sights on something besides football with his NFL career coming to an end.

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